Wilson, Gray lead US to 77-63 win over China in World Cup

A’ja Wilson admitted she was tired. The WNBA MVP had just arrived in Australia less than 24 hours ago and the USA were playing their toughest opponent in the World Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — A’ja Wilson admitted she was tired.

The WNBA MVP had just arrived in Australia less than 24 hours ago, fresh from a championship, and the USA were playing their toughest World Cup opponent.

After a slow start, Wilson was stuck in the fourth quarter and finished with 20 points to help the US beat China 77-63 on Saturday.

“I don’t know how to do this,” Wilson said. “You just put things aside… It’s like riding a bike. I’m exhausted, I won’t lie about it. At this point I don’t even think about it. I am surrounded by greatness. I really lean into her. I don’t even know where up is. I can see it’s daytime and I feel like I need to go to sleep.”

Since losing to Russia in the 2006 semifinals, the United States have now won 25 consecutive World Cup games. The Americans advanced to the quarterfinals and are just one win away from matching their 1998-2006 record of 26 games.

The teams went into the tournament undefeated. The USA (3-0) led 25-20 in the first half and 6-23 to go before beating China 19-5 in the rest of the second quarter, including the last 13 points. Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart scored seven of the 13 points together during the game-changing breakout.

Wilson ended the half with a putback for 44:25. She and her Las Vegas teammates Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum played in their first game in Australia. The trio was in Las Vegas celebrating the franchise’s first WNBA championship before arriving in Sydney.

The US led 56-40 by 2:18 in the third before China scored the last seven points of the period to move to nine. The Aces trio scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to make it another 16-point game.

“They put me in the best position to hit the basketball,” Wilson said of her teammates, who found her in the fourth quarter.

However, China but go away. Trailing 67-51, Li Meng scored four points in a 9-0 burst to level her team at 69-60 with 2 minutes left.

Wilson ended the drought with two free throws and a reverse layup to seal the win.

Li ended with 21 points, leading China (2-1).

China had been victorious in their first two games, losing both South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina by an average of 55 points. The Chinese team hadn’t faced a defense like the USA, which had been solid in the first two games.

There was a large pro-China crowd of approximately 9,400 fans for the game, including Hall of Famer Yao Ming, chairman of the China Basketball Association. It was shown on the video wall and received a huge ovation from the crowd.

“The Chinese fan base, whether it was the local fan base here or they came from abroad, was just enormous,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve. “Your support has created a fun environment. I’ve heard some Americans. That’s what you want.”

HOSTILE CROWD

Plum went to the foul line sometime in the second half and the fans booed her. She grinned at that and calmly sunk both free throws.

“I heard the noise. I don’t think I’ve been booed in a long time,” Plum said, laughing. “I don’t think Connecticut (fans) booed me at all.”

SEMESTER ABROAD

Plum and Gray both said they got wifi on the long flight to Australia to study the US playbook.

“I’ve had a few hours to look through it,” Plum said.

SHOWBOARD

In other games on Saturday, South Korea defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 99-66 and Belgium defeated Puerto Rico 68-65.

NEXT

China: Face Puerto Rico on Monday.

USA: Plays against South Korea on Monday.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/wnba/wilson-gray-lead-us-to-77-63-win-over-china-in-world-cup/281-888c6c42-c8c7-433a-8902-33317cc2d9bd Wilson, Gray lead US to 77-63 win over China in World Cup

Emma Bowman

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